In India, women are victims of "genocide". Thousands are burned alive, murdered because their families are no longer able to provide an ever more demanding dowry.
LThe custom of dowry has been banned in India since 1961, yet there, every hour, an Indian woman dies because of this tradition. The numbers are staggering: more than 8000 women each year. Worse, they keep increasing. Regarding violence against women, United Nations speak of an "escalation of violence" with "an increase of 902,1% since 1971" and denounce "the constant impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such acts". Rape, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, sexual exploitation and trafficking in women, make the daily life of Indian women. The "high number of dowry-related deaths since 2008" calls out to the international community.
The Sydney Morning Herald traces the unspeakable story of Laxmi, 28, a young Indian mother, more than 80% burned by her mother-in-law. It is Sushila, her mother, who nevertheless lives 12 kilometers from her home, who will provide her with first aid. She tells the story of her daughter's ordeal and reveals to the world the daily life of thousands of Indian women.
Her husband, Majunath, is an alcoholic and unemployed. Laxmi is a cleaning lady, but what she earns is only used to finance Majunath's alcohol. She suffers the harassment of her mother-in-law and her husband who are always asking for more. Laxmi's family gives in and supports them financially. But this is not enough. One evening, while she is cooking, her mother-in-law sprinkles it with gasoline and forces her husband to set it on fire. In flames, she tries to seek help from her husband.
“There was so much oil that instead of putting out the fire, she also set it on fire. "
Laxmi finds the strength to join her mother's house. It was she who took her to the hospital, where she died 3 days later.
“I heard her cry, she was in agony, but I didn't know how bad it was. There was no one to help her, no one wanted to join her. I was the only person she could turn to for help and I live 12 kilometers away. "
These crimes concern all Indian women, regardless of their caste or level of education. In India, there is a saying in favor of this violence: "The more you beat it, the more you get". Donna Fernandes is the founder of Vimochana, a women's rights organization. She explains :
“They start asking for money, gold, or consumer goods like washing machines or televisions. No matter what they believe they are owed or promised, luxuries they can charge the bride's family for. In many cases, the husband's family decides after marriage that the initial dowry was not sufficient. They know that the bride's family is vulnerable, because of the subjugated role of women in our society, and that it all starts with a process of extortion. Demands for money become threats of violence, and when the family can no longer pay, the bride is killed. "
A paroxicism of horror, these crimes are mostly carried out with complete impunity, as revealed by Satya, social worker at Vimochana:
“Thousands and thousands of cases every year are recorded as accidental deaths or suicides. We estimate that the actual number of deaths each year is up to three or four times higher than official statistics, because most of those involved, including the wife's family, the husband's family, and the police have an interest in covering up the truth. "
In July 2018, the Indian Court ruled that dowry laws are being used to unfairly harass husbands and in-laws. Supreme Court judge CK Prasad sees the increase in harassment cases as proof of this misuse.
“The easiest way to harass is to have the husband and his relatives arrested under this provision. "
But Donna Fernandes will continue to campaign for Indian women's rights:
“The United Nations considers this to be a form of genocide. It is a large-scale crime, and we are losing the battle. "
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